Favorite Holiday Traditions from our Amberjack Authors.
In honor of our authors, we thought it would be fun to learn more about them by sharing their favorite holiday season traditions! Here are some touching, witty, and interesting stories from 13 of our writers. We are so grateful to be working with all of our wonderful and creative authors and hope that you will fall in love with them and their books as much as we have!
Happy Holidays from the team at Amberjack Publishing!
"I freely admit that I go completely over-the-top at Christmas. One of our big traditions is the annual ‘putting up the tree’, which involves lots of cheesy Christmas music, not to mention muttered swearing as my husband and I try to get the tree to stand up straight. The night before Christmas is always good fun too. We all snuggle on the sofa in our pyjamas, and watch Polar Express while sipping hot chocolate. Add to that the homemade Christmas-crackers, crazy decorations, and far too much food, and you’ve got one Christmas-obsessed household! The other one that came to mind was my mother serving us all a full English breakfast, followed by a Christmas dinner, followed by bubble-and-squeak, cheese and crackers… I’m amazed any of us were able to move afterward!"
"What could be more magical to usher in the holiday season than to watch a ballet ensemble and orchestra perform the Nutcracker? Luckily, the Boulder Ballet Company and Philharmonic Orchestra provide that treat every year at the end of November. It has become a favorite family holiday tradition to attend. First, I attended The Nutcracker with my daughters and now with my granddaughter. Each year, something about the production is fresh and new; while some things are precious and oh so familiar. As we leave the auditorium on the University of Colorado campus each year, humming a favorite melody, we are ready to leap into a special holiday season!"
"One of my favorite holiday traditions was started a few years ago by a close friend in my circle of animal rescue people here in Los Angeles. We began as a small group, and we have grown as we have invited friends and family to join us. We meet the first Sunday evening in December at one of our houses, and everyone brings something for a potluck dinner. Everyone who attends donates $20 to the charity fund. We draw numbers and split into six teams. And then we play a cutthroat game of “Catch Phrase” (if you haven’t played this game yet, trust me, you will love it!). The game is done in elimination rounds, and the winning team gets to pick the animal rescue charity that will receive the donation of the charity fund. We do it at the beginning of the holiday season so that the donation will bring comfort and joy to animals as the end of the year approaches. It’s a very fun way to celebrate the compassionate and giving nature of the holiday season."
"It isn't surprising that I like multi-cultural books, as my dad always made us try exotic foods on Christmas Eve and New Year's. Whether it was something like escargot or liver pate, we all had to at least TRY something we hadn't eaten before. Dad said we could hate something after we tried it, but he wouldn't let us turn our noses up at something that we hadn't even tasted. As for my mom's influence at the holidays, she had a Scandinavian background, so every Christmas Eve we ate Swedish Potato Sausage and LEFSE (Norwegian flatbread made with potatoes, flour, butter and milk). Food is definitely a big part of ALL our holidays, but for me, growing up in a close family with 6 siblings multiplied the joy!"
"Chanukah, which is a very minor Jewish holiday, has the misfortune of being celebrated around the same time as Christmas. But in typical Jewish fashion we have, for the most part, substituted eating for gift giving. The holiday celebrates the miracle of one day's supply of oil for the "eternal light" in the Temple lasting for eight days. And so our menu includes dishes that are prepared with oil; primarily potato pancakes (latkes) and donuts. My wife and I invite dozens of friends and our entire family to celebrate with us by consuming enormous amounts of latkes, along with a large selection of other food. (My wife uses 25 pounds of potatoes and a gallon of oil plus some other secret ingredients to make the latkes) It is a time of good cheer and we always end the party with a ceremonial lighting of the Chanukah menorah, the giving of gifts, and the singing of joyous songs."
"My mother is wonderful at hiding gifts prior to Christmas. Unfortunately, she isn't quite as good at remembering where she has hidden those gifts. Because of that, it isn't unusual for me or my sister to receive a forgotten Christmas gift in February. I was once given a Christmas gift in June. Years ago, my sister and I decided that whoever receives the final forgotten gift, has officially "won" Christmas. I've been the winner, three years running."
"Ten years ago, my husband asked me if I'd ever gone caroling. I couldn't recall ever having done that. To be honest, I couldn't really remember even witnessing this yuletide phenomenon myself. I mean, that's something I'd seen in movies and TV, but not in real life! Did people even do that anymore? Well, we decided to give it at try. We invited friends over, bundled up, and headed out into the cold to belt out Christmas tunes for our unsuspecting neighbors. Reactions were mixed. Some stood there and stared with confused expressions. We kept singing. Once or twice, the door slammed shut after the first few tentative notes. We kept singing. Once, we started a song but quickly realized that most of us didn't actually know the lyrics. "Frosty, the snowman, was a jolly, happy soul...with a corn cob pipe and a blah blah something, and, uh..."That time, the singing died out and was replaced with embarrassed laughter. But most of the time we made it through at least one complete song, and many of the listening "carol-ees" loved our efforts, and applauded. We've been caroling each December for the past ten years, now. Kids have chased us down and asked us to return, and more than once parents have offered money. (We always refuse, but one man insisted, so the money was donated to a charity). Once we're out of songs, out of steam and our lips are frozen and rubbery from the cold, we head back to our house and celebrate with hot cocoa and cookies. Since this has become a tradition of ours, the neighbors are getting used to us and our numbers are slowly growing. Now all we need is to make sure everyone knows the words to "Frosty the Snowman."
"Holidays for me, like many others, are spent mostly with family. Every holiday season, it's a tradition to decorate the Christmas tree with my older sister, with some form of Michael Buble's holiday albums playing in the background. The man has so many holiday albums now, it's hard to keep up. They're all winners though!"
"My most vivid memories are of my mom. She had a beautiful voice and would sing along with her favorite xmas albums as she wrapped presents. Now that she's gone, that's one of the things I'll miss the most."
"Growing up in Colorado, our winters were cold and snowy, so hours were spent outside sledding or curled up by the fireplace with a book. Christmas was always an all out event. My mother went overboard with decorations. One year we had thirty-two Christmas trees and she organized Santa to come to the house to meet with the kids in my neighborhood. With three siblings, there was always arguing, laughter and never a quiet moment. We made gingerbread houses, cookies, snuggled up to watch Christmas movies (especially Christmas Vacation) and would drive around to find displays of Christmas lights with mugs of hot cocoa, listening to Christmas music and debating which house had the best light display. Needless to say, I felt a small amount of pressure to make sure Christmas with my own family lived up to the incredible memories my of childhood." As a military wife, we've moved around the country, and the world, for as long as I've been an adult. Home became not where we lived, but where we were together as a family. It was important to me to create Christmas traditions we could take with us wherever we lived, that my two children were able to make the same magical memories. We make Christmas cookies, buttery spritz, nutty peanut butter blossoms and stuffed snickerdoodles. We (okay, just me) wrap gifts and watch Christmas Vacation. When live Christmas trees are available, we trek out to find the perfect tree and cut it down, but unfortunately in South Africa they don't have Christmas tree farms (or a forest where you could find an adequate substitute) so we've had to deal with an artificial tree, much to my family's displeasure. Living in South Africa, where Christmas is in the Southern Hemisphere and summertime, has derailed some of our traditions but we've adjusted. Now we spend Christmas Eve playing in the pool with frozen "hot cocoa" milkshakes! As an parent, Christmas gives you a different angle to appreciate the holiday and the memories. Whether we are spending time with extended family in Colorado or just our little family of four wherever the military has sent us, Christmas will always be a time of magic and wonder. For us, it's the traditions and the company that make Christmas special, not the gifts or the day."
"My family and I spend the holidays along the coast of North Carolina. As you might guess, a tiny town with the name of Oriental, North Carolina, has a few interesting holiday traditions. On New Year's Eve, the annual "Running of the Dragon " takes place through downtown Oriental. In fact, there are two runnings, one at 8 PM for those who need their rest, and the other starting around 11:30 PM. An oriental dragon meanders through town while the rest of us bang pots and pans, play music, and a few hardy souls run up to touch the dragon to assure themselves of good luck for the rest of the year. At midnight, the Oriental Croaker drops from the mast of a sailboat in the harbor. Legend has it that the town was named after a ship's wooden nameplate washed ashore--the ship called the Oriental. And a croaker, by the way, is a type of fish common in the area. Oriental styles itself as the Sailing Capital of North Carolina. The town's harbor opens up onto the Neuse River, which merges into Pamlico Sound, a vast, shallow-water inland sea. On New Year's Day, the town hosts the "Instead of Football Regatta." Often more than 50 sailboats, ranging from tiny Sunfish up to impressive yachts, sail on the Neuse for a few hours before adjourning to a local restaurant to decide the regatta's winners by drawing them out of a hat. It is the ultimate in non-competitive racing! There are more registered boats in Oriental than there are permanent residents. It is a sailing, fishing, crabbing sort of town, where Christmas dinner is as likely to be a mess of blue crabs and shrimp as turkey and ham."
"Our traditions are simple. Every year, my husband and I alternate picking out 1-3 new sets of colors for Christmas/Hanukkah ornaments. Each set we write the year we got it, and it's all in the hopes that 30 years from now, our kids and their kids will argue about which ornaments have to stay in the box this year. They can see how our tastes changed throughout our marriage, and we'll see our tree evolve and grow with our love. Cheesy, but it's a simple tradition that means a lot to us."
"When I was a kid, we used to go to my grandmother's house around Christmas. We would paint ornaments - some of which went on the tree at my grandmother's house, and some of which went on our tree at our house. We would visit with the whole extended family, and the grandchildren would all exchange Christmas gifts. It was a wonderful time to share with family."